In township tonight! – South Africa’s black city music and theatre

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This edition will include a new introduction, reflecting on the once unimaginable changes in South African black music and theatre that have occurred over the past 20 years, two new empirical chapters updating events and trends in black music and theatre since the first edition, and a new analytical, retrospective concluding chapter. Against the harsh background of the apartheid system black popular culture is a dynamic force which continues to give life and hope to the people of the townships such as Soweto and Sharpeville. It has produced artists of international reputation – Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), Miriam Mekeba, Hugh Masekela – but they represent just a small fraction of this rich, vibrant and diverse urban culture. Every night musicians and other performers draw enthusiastic audiences to dance halls, jazz clubs and shebeens throughout the townships. It is a culture which has a long and complex history. This title explores that history, taking us from indigenous musical traditions into the world of slave orchestras, penny whistlers, clergyman-composers, the gumboot dances of the dockers and mineworkers, and the touring minstrelsy and vaudeville acts. It traces the emergence of the first jazz bands – the Darktown Strutters, the Merry Blackbirds, the Jazz Maniacs – and the marabi, kwela, and mbaqanga dance styles. It records the development of black theatre from the first all-black musicals, to the popular drama workshops and the internationally successful Market Theatre, Johannesburg. In Township Tonight! Is a tribute to the resilience and achievements of black South African artists who, in the author’s words, have ‘humanised a wasteland of oppression and neglect’. It is a title which will be of great interest to social historians, musicologists, jazz enthusiasts and all those concerned about cotemporary South Africa and its development.

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